Prediction of breast cancer using volatile biomarkers in the breath

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2006 Sep;99(1):19-21. doi: 10.1007/s10549-006-9176-1. Epub 2006 Feb 24.


We evaluated a breath test for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as a predictor of breast cancer. Breath VOCs were assayed in 51 asymptomatic women with abnormal mammograms and biopsy-proven breast cancer, and 42 age-matched healthy women. A fuzzy logic model predicted breast cancer with accuracy superior to previously reported findings. Following random assignment to a training set (64) or a prediction set (29), a model was constructed in the training set employing five breath VOCs that predicted breast cancer in the prediction set with 93.8% sensitivity and 84.6% specificity. The same model predicted no breast cancer in 16/50 (32.0%) women with abnormal mammograms and no cancer on biopsy. A two-minute breath test could potentially provide a safe, accurate and painless screening test for breast cancer, but prospective validation studies are required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Biopsy
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breath Tests
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Fuzzy Logic
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Organic Chemicals